Two-nil down at half-time, Stocksfield had to come from behind to win last night’s Pin Point Recruitment Charity Cup Final. Goals from Glenn Caygill, Scott Johnson and an 80th minute winner from Martin Graham gave the Premier Division side their first piece of silverware since beating Whitley Bay Reserves in the 2006 Northern Alliance Amateur Cup.
Despite their defeat, it’s been a heady few years for South Shields United. Founded by Gareth Allen in 2007, they’ve since had three grounds, one promotion and three cup finals, including last season’s win in the Durham Minor Cup. This season they’re up to fourth in the Northern Alliance Division One and reached the Charity Cup final with a 3-0 win over Gosforth Bohemians in the semi. And next season? For South Shields United, there won’t be one.
Allen not only founded the club, he also manages and funds it, putting in around £6,000 of his own money over the past four years. But the withdrawal of two main sponsors combined with problems over the condition of the pitch at their Harton and Welfare Ground have forced him into folding the club at the end of the season. “It’s a huge disappointment but it’s the sensible thing to do,” he announced. “I wouldn’t want to fold mid-season causing hassle to the league and other clubs.” The news means United have only two games left – at Gosforth Bohemians on May 16th and the home game with Amble United two days later. “The club have been a credit to the League and the Management Committee are disappointed at this unfortunate, but understandable, decision,” was the Northern Alliance’s response to the decision. Next season Allen will be at Percy Main Amateurs, co-managing the Premier Division side with Jason Ritchie.
Weather permitting, there’s a full programme of games in the Alliance this weekend. Stocksfield travel to Alnwick Town, whose title hopes were revitalised by Ponteland United’s defeat at Harraby Catholic Club last Saturday. Ponteland are away to Gateshead Rutherford, while third-placed Harraby go to Cramlington Town.
In the Wearside League the big game is at Easington. A win or a draw for visiting Ryhope Colliery Welfare would be enough to clinch the title. The home side, with New Marske just five points behind in third, could be promoted back to the Northern League with a win of their own.